Good leader communication has a direct impact on bottom-line results

What do you believe is most valuable to employees:

1. A high salary and a decent pension fund

2. A great work/life balance

3. Being listened and enabled to implement their own ideas

The answer might be surprising but it seems like answer 3 is making the race!

Joel Brockner and Phyllis Siegel surveyed nearly 300 employees from dozens of organizations and found that work/life balance has no measurable effect on employees’ commitment – as long as they felt that senior executives provided good reasons for their decisions and treated them with dignity and respect.

leader speaking to employees

Nonetheless, the tone at work tends to get more and more rude. A poll done by Christine Porath and Christine Pearson among thousands of workers has shown that the number of people treated rudely at least once a week has doubled from 1998 to 2011 – from a quarter to half of them.

The result of such a behavior is not long in coming. Employees who experience incivility and a lack of respect at the workplace are less creative – many get fed up and leave. About half of them deliberately decrease their effort or lower the quality of their work. This has a direct impact on bottom-line results but is still neglected when it comes to searching for solutions to improve them.

The fact that treating employees fairly is inexpensive financially may be why number-oriented executives tend to undervalue it. Many executives turn to money first to solve problems by changing structures, practices or other more tangible assets.

A constantly underestimated source of connecting employees is leader communication

In the graph you can see where employees get information from. They see their leader as the most important source taking two thirds of their total attention. BUT – when leaders do not communicate properly these two thirds stay empty. Your lack of communicating with your team is not replaced by information coming from your internal Communications department, it is filled with rumors creating unrest and uncertainty.

Your people need guidance and a vision of what you want to achieve as a team as much as you do. Failing to communicate your and your company's priorities can cost you a lot of additional effort. It's difficult to delegate when your people do not have a sense of the bigger picture and you probably end up doing more work yourself.

5 things leaders can do when communicating to positively influence bottom-line results

1. Create line of sight for your team to enable them to understand and adhere to overall company vision and goals. Value the contribution of team members to the bigger picture. Regularly celebrate success !

2. Translate communication coming from the top into the language of your team. Explain what it means for them and point out opportunities. Strengthen pride and sense of belonging whenever possible.

3. Listen to your team members with empathy and empower them. Ask for their opinion and give them serious consideration. Correct mistakes where you can.

4. Explain decision that are made from the top. Clarify why they have been taken and treat employees respectfully. Focus on directly affected employees first but do not forget to care about non-affected employees. When it is about restructuring you want them to stay in the company and they will need your full attention to embrace that change properly.

5. Always be as open and honest as possible. Legal considerations about what to communicate are important but they should not be taken to unnecessary extremes. Alike for confidentiality.

Good leaders care not only about the outcomes produced by their team members ; they care about how employees are treated to achieve them. The more you focus on maximizing the benefits of decisions that create opportunities for your people, the better off you will be.


© 2019 Ulrike Seminati, Zurich, Switzerland